DreamWorks Dragons Dawn of New Riders

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
DreamWorks Dragons Dawn of New Riders Game Poster Image
Fun but shallow adventure tied to the "Dragons" movies.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Based on a popular animated film franchise, this is a fantasy game that has you performing light missions for various people. There are no positive or negative messages in this game.

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

You play as two characters in this game: Scribbler, a young scholar who can't remember his past, and Patch, a unique breed of dragon referred to as a “Chimeragon.” The duo travels together to battle foes, explore new lands, and help unravel a mystery. They're mostly positive protagonists and they're fighting against evil, but they do use their abilities and powers for combat.

Ease of Play

Using a top-down perspective, you'll move around, solve environmental puzzles, open chests, and fight against enemies. The controls are easy to pick up, while a map shows where you need to go to complete the objective.

Violence

While fantasy-based and cartoon-like, a good portion of the game is battling against human or dragon-based enemies who want to stop you in your path. The humans can use swords and explosives to attack you, and as Scribbler, you'll also master combat and upgrade weapons to take on tougher enemies. There's no blood or gore shown, and enemies simply disappear when defeated. 

Sex
Language
Consumerism

Based on the animated DreamWorks Dragons movie franchise -- and timed with the release of the film, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents should know that Dreamworks Dragons Dawn of New Riders is an action adventure game for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. The game's based on the popular Dragons animated movies from DreamWorks (and is being launched at the same time as the feature film, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World). There's combat in the game, as Scribbler (a human) and Patch (his hybrid dragon) use weapons and special powers, respectively, to defeat enemies. But there's no blood or gore shown in the game, because enemies disappear when defeated. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content in the game.

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What's it about?

Related to -- but not based upon -- the movie, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World -- DREAMWORKS DRAGONS DAWN OF NEW RIDERS lets you play as a young scholar, Scribbler, and his newly hatched dragon hybrid, Patch (referred to as a "Chimeragon”). This duo ventures out to find and defeat villains who destroyed a dragon sanctuary created by Hiccup and Toothless. Using Scribbler's combat skills and Patch's newfound abilities, they set out to interact with people from the island of Havenholme to solve various missions, free trapped dragons, explore many parts of this world (including above and underneath it), and use items found in chests and hidden in bushes. Along the way, Scribbler -- who can't remember his past -- begins to understand who he is and his role in this fight for justice. While a brand-new story, fans of the franchise will recognize some locations and storylines, and will come across familiar Dragons characters including Hiccup, Astrid, Gobber, and others.

Is it any good?

While the action adventure game is fun, there isn't really a lot of depth or original gameplay in this game. Dreamworks Dragons Dawn Of New Riders is easy to pickup and play with simple mechanics like exploring, combat, and some puzzle-solving. For kids who like DreamWorks Dragons movies, they'll enjoy the familiar characters and locations, and they'll welcome the new additions to the universe. The graphics are decent, with some nice special effects, too, including transparent rainbows in front of misty waterfalls and subterranean dungeons lit by colorful, glowing artifacts. The missions are somewhat varied and there a few different areas to unlock and explore. There are some light role-playing game (RPG) elements, like buying and selling items, and upgrading skills. Scribbler and Patch work well together, such as Patch freezing enemies with its breath, so Scrribber can better hit the slow-moving enemies with his sword.

But there are some shortcomings: Almost all the dialogue is text-based, and there's a lot to move through to get to the action, so don't expect younger kids to read much of it. Too bad the developers didn't have voice actors to read the lines, and instead decided to include some odd grunts and noises (perhaps this decision was to make it easily converted to other languages). Ironically, for a game that includes dragons, much of the action takes place on the ground. And when you do take to the skies, the controls aren't as smooth as they are for the rest of the game. Plus, the game is single-player only, and without random map or mission generation, there's little reason to play a second time around once you've beaten it. Overall, Dreamworks Dragons Dawn Of New Riders is a good but not a great game -- especially for younger players and those who love the movies its based upon.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the strong consumerism tie-in with the movie. Is it OK if kids want a video game that lets them live vicariously through the movie's protagonist? Or are these games merely a merchandising opportunity of the movie studio?

  • Is the impact of the violence in Dreamworks Dawn of New Riders affected by the cartoonish combat in the game? Would the violence be intensified if the combat was more realistic?

Game details

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